Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meta Dreaming and the Writer's Bliss: The Controlled Dream of Writing Fiction

Writing at the Kitchen Table: Bacon and Eggs and Literary Fiction

After all my travels and wandering and jet lag, I'm trying to settle in again to my personal space--my home, my bliss. There a certain hangover quality to all this. I can't get my grip on it. Bliss is, after all, illusive.

A writer's routine is a fiction writer's life blood--no routine, no writing. Routine is responsible for the warp and woof of good fiction, for the depth of the knap of the word-woven carpet. The brain/body duality loves routine. But I don't know why.

Something about brain waves, I suspect. I do notice this: During the process of writing hard and close and uninterrupted for a few hours, my brain switches gears. Then, when I stop and move on to something else, like say, driving to the supermarket, it's a struggle. I'm in a sort of fog. Easy, habitual physical acts don't work right. I forget where I'm going, have to think about simple, reflexive movements and decisions. My poor wife worries that the old man is losing something important.

After a few hours, things are back to normal. The writer's brain surrenders. The practical, non-dreaming brain takes control again. Tomorrow morning, early, I will try to summon the dreaming brain again by settling into my writer's routine. In the early dawn, as I drift slowly up from deep sleep, I've learned to allow myself to float along with the rising of consciousness, of increasing awareness. But then I can stop at a place where the dreaming continues but the awareness of the dreaming is real: I know what is happening, but the mind is taking me places I would not be able to go later when fully awake. I call this meta dreaming.

The secret then, is to bring this state of mind with me down to the place where I write. To drink my coffee and sit back in my big, soft chair and continue the controlled dream of writing fiction.

No comments:

Post a Comment